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Whitehouse Takes Seat on HELP as Minnesota Court Fight Continues

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has been tapped to temporarily fill the vacant seat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — just in time for the summer debate on health care reform.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that he was appointing Whitehouse to fill out the HELP Committee’s last Democratic slot “on a temporary basis.—

“I still retain the authority to make a permanent appointment in the 111th Congress,— Reid said Tuesday night.

Reid left openings on the HELP, Aging and Indian Affairs committees earlier this year, in the event that Democrat Al Franken was seated as Minnesota’s junior Senator. But with the recount decision in the Gopher State still pending and with the health care debate gearing up, the Majority Leader opted to fill the HELP vacancy temporarily, a spokeswoman said.

Whitehouse also serves on the Budget, Environment and Public Works, Judiciary, Intelligence, and Aging committees.

“Our health care system is in disrepair — its failures touch millions of American families, every day — and fixing it is among our biggest and most urgent challenges,— Whitehouse said in a statement. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do all I can to help Chairman [Edward] Kennedy [D-Mass.] and my colleagues to move this vital effort forward.—

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